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GA/L/3651
4 November 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 26th Meeting (AM)

Sixth Committee Speakers Highlight Proposals on Countries’ Right to Self-Defence, Security Council Reform, Sanctions, as Special Charter Committee Debate Ends

Delegates in the Sixth Committee (Legal) today offered various proposals in response to concerns about the abuse of the Charter of the United Nations and the impact of sanctions, as the Committee concluded its debate on the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, also known as the Special Charter Committee.  (For background, see Press Release GA/L/3650.)

Mexico’s delegate, calling for more accountability and transparency in the work of the Security Council, highlighted his country’s proposal to the Special Charter Committee.  That proposal would enable a focused space for all Member States to exchange views on recent interpretations of Article 51, particularly concerning the use of force against terrorist groups.  Voicing concern about the abuse of that Article, he noted that a dialogue on this matter, which is not considered in any other forum, falls within the competency of the Special Committee.

The representative of Haiti also called for the implementation of “good faith” sanctions, noting that his country has been the subject of both sanctions and United Nations missions.  Strongly condemning the misuse of United Nations mechanisms to benefit certain powerful countries, he pointed out that the phrase “nations large and small” in the Charter’s preamble does not reflect the principle of sovereign equality.  A nation is a community of shared memory, myths, culture, historical links and economic unity, he said, adding that in the absence of legal criteria to determine whether a nation is “large” or “small”, the Charter should simply refer to “nations”.

The Russian Federation’s representative highlighted an initiative submitted by his country and Belarus requesting an International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the legal consequences of a State’s use of force without preliminary authorization from the Security Council, except in cases of the right to self-defence.  He also noted various suggestions placed before the Committee including Mexico’s proposal, Syria’s initiative to examine the immunities of United Nations representatives and Iran’s proposal concerning unilateral sanctions.  These could be helpful in settling disputes, he said, calling for a full-fledged discussion in the Special Charter Committee.

However, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that many duplicative proposals and working papers could lead to a lack of interest and participation in the Special Charter Committee.  The Committee must not be used as a forum for political propaganda, he said, calling on delegates to consider the possibility of retiring stagnant proposals, review the Committee’s work to avoid overlaps and hold meetings in alternate years.

Along those lines, the United States’ representative emphasized that the Special Charter Committee should not pursue activities that would duplicate, or be inconsistent with, the roles of the Organization’s principal organs.  Welcoming new proposals that are practical and apolitical and do not duplicate efforts under way elsewhere in the Organization, she said that targeted sanctions remain an important instrument for the maintenance of peace and security. 

Delegates also highlighted other means for peaceful settlement of disputes, with Qatar’s representative noting his country’s mediation role, including in Afghanistan at the present time.  Such efforts are critical for a smooth transition of power for a comprehensive political settlement, he said, adding that sanctions should be used only when necessary and must anticipate and mitigate humanitarian consequences.

China’s delegate, urging a cautious and responsible use of sanctions, highlighted arbitration as a professional, flexible and efficient means towards settlement of disputes.  His country has nominated four arbitrators to the Permanent Court on Arbitration, he said, noting that this method depends on the will of the parties and the correct application of laws by third parties.  Sanctions are means rather than ends, he said, calling the Charter the bedrock of the international order.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Sixth Committee heard the introduction of the report of the Secretary‑General on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/76/223), by Blanca Montejo, Senior Political Affairs Officer of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Security Council Affairs Division, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.  The Repertoire, conceived in the 1950s, has stood the test of time and is very much an essential tool for understanding the dynamics and complex work of the Security Council, she said.

Noting the Branch’s work on the twenty-third and twenty-fourth Supplements to the Repertoire, she highlighted the use of modern technologies to develop a visual and interactive information dataset, including on the representation of women in the work of the Council, the history of membership in the Council, and the chairs and vice-chairs of subsidiary organs.  She also noted that contributions to the Trust Fund from Member States have enabled the Branch to make it available in all the official languages of the Organization.

The representative of Austria introduced three draft resolutions relating to the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty-fourth session. 

Also speaking today were the representatives of Morocco (for the African Group), Egypt, Colombia, El Salvador, India, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria, Niger, Morocco (in national capacity), Nicaragua and Ghana.

The Sixth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 November, to begin its consideration of the report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country.

Introduction to Draft Resolutions

MAXIMILIAN GORKE (Austria) introduced three draft resolutions relating to the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the work of its fifty-fourth session.  The first, “Mediation Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/C.6/76/L.3), and the second, “Expedited Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/C.6/76/L.4), would have the General Assembly express appreciation to UNCITRAL for having adopted mediation rules and expedited arbitration rules, respectively, and recommend use of the same in the settlement of international commercial disputes.  The third, “Enlargement of the membership of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law” (document A/C.6/76/L.5), would have the General Assembly decide to increase UNCITRAL’s membership from 60 to 70 States and decide on the procedural rules for the election of these additional members.

He pointed out that all three draft resolutions are based on texts adopted by UNCITRAL earlier in 2021 and received broad support from delegates during informal meetings.  He recommended that the Sixth Committee adopt these draft resolutions without a vote.

Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations

BLANCA MONTEJO, Senior Political Affairs Officer of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, Security Council Affairs Division, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/76/223).  This year, the Branch’s work focused on the simultaneous completion of the twenty-third Supplement and the preparation of the twenty-fourth Supplement to the Repertoire, respectively covering the years 2020 and 2021, she reported, noting that the advance version of the twenty-third Supplement was posted on the website of the Council.  Noting that all published versions of the Supplements covering the period from 1989 to 2018 are available in hard copy in English and online in all six official languages, she said that contributions to the Trust Fund from Member States in response to the Branch’s appeal have enabled expedited editing of the Repertoire and its early availability in all official languages.

The Branch, she continued, has also considerably expanded the use of modern technologies to develop a broad range of visual and interactive information datasets on the practice of the Council, all of which are available on the Security Council’s website.  It has developed three new datasets, namely, on the representation of women in the work of the Council, the history of membership in the Council, and the chairs and vice-chairs of subsidiary organs.  Also noting the launch of the first issue of a monthly newsletter, “The UN Security Council in Review”, she pointed to the enhancement of the online search function for the Repertoire.  Calling for continued financial support from Member States, she said that the Repertoire, conceived in 1950s, has stood the test of time and is very much an essential tool to understand the dynamics and complex work of the Security Council.

AAHDE LAHMIRI (Morocco), speaking for the African Group and associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, advocated strengthening the links between the United Nations and regional organizations for the peaceful settlement of disputes.  Calling for cooperation and more structured engagements, she expressed support for the proposal by Ghana, describing it as a fundamental principle of international law, embodied in Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations.

She stressed that preventative diplomacy is an important part of conflict prevention and peaceful dispute settlement.  Furthermore, she called on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization to continue to analyse all means envisaged in Chapter VI of the Charter on pacific settlements of disputes.  She also added her support for the draft resolution celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.

AHMED ABDELAZIZ AHMED ELGHARIB (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, highlighted the Special Charter Committee’s critical role in examining Member States’ proposals to strengthen the role of the Organization and to promote international peace and security.  He also emphasized the need to coordinate between sanctions committees and relevant regional States, calling for the next report on this topic to assess such dialogue, outline issues facing regional States and offer proposals for sanctions committees in this regard.  The Repertory and Repertoire, he added, are important publications that transparently document the Organization’s legislative history.  Therefore, he underlined the importance of promoting multilingualism by translating these texts into all official languages of the United Nations.

LUCIA TERESA SOLANO RAMIREZ (Colombia) said that the Special Charter Committee represents an appropriate space for the study of suggestions and proposals for strengthening the role of the Organization as well as the role of law within the United Nations.  The Manila Settlement on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes is a tangible achievement of this Committee, she said, adding that it is crucial to use each and every means available for the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The sanctions regime is an important instrument for maintaining peace and security without resorting to force.  Also voicing gratitude for the progress made in updating the Repertory and Repertoire, she said these instruments make it possible to preserve the institutional memory of the Organization.

ALI AHMAD M.A. ALMANSOURI (Qatar), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes was one of the most significant contributions of the Special Charter Committee.  The Charter provides very distinctly for the mandates of each United Nations organ.  It is necessary to strengthen the role of the General Assembly so that it can use all its prerogatives.  Thanks to Qatar's mediation efforts based on the Charter, the country has contributed to international stability and security, including the recent and ongoing negotiations in Afghanistan.  Such efforts are critical for a smooth transition of power for a comprehensive political settlement. Regarding targeted sanctions, he stressed they should be used only when necessary, must anticipate and mitigate humanitarian consequences and must be lifted as soon as the situation allows.  He also noted that, from 2019 to date, Qatar has contributed $30,000 annually to support the updating of the Repertoire.

ELIZABETH MARYANNE GROSSO (United States) said that her country has a long history of using arbitration, from the Jay Treaty of 1794 to the Iran‑United States Claims Tribunal today.  Regarding the Special Charter Committee agenda, she emphasized that targeted sanctions, adopted by the Security Council in accordance with the Charter, remain an important instrument for the maintenance of peace and security.  Further discussion on options to strengthen implementation would be helpful.  The Special Charter Committee should not pursue activities that would duplicate, or be inconsistent with, the roles of the Organization’s principal organs.  Regarding new subjects for the agenda, she welcomed new proposals that are practical and apolitical and do not duplicate efforts under way elsewhere in the United Nations.  She urged Member States to avoid using the Special Charter Committee as a forum to air bilateral concerns or pursue topics more appropriately raised in other forums.

LIGIA LORENA FLORES SOTO (El Salvador), thanking the Special Charter Committee for its report, which details its debates on various agenda items, congratulated the Secretariat for its updates to the Repertory and Repertoire.  These constitute an important archive for the general public, but also for international law scholars, she said. Voicing commitment to the peaceful settlement of international disputes, she said that the Handbook on that topic refers to the principle of free choice of means, as provided for in the Charter. To guarantee legal certainty in the exercise of this free choice, it is essential to respect the different models of dispute settlement and the procedures to be followed in each case. The Manila Declaration was the result of consensus by Member States, she said, adding that it sets out inter-State procedures as well as institutional procedures.

PABLO ADRIÁN ARROCHA OLABUENAGA (Mexico), recalling the 1975 General Assembly resolution which established the Special Charter Committee, spotlighted its mandate to consider the suggestions of Member States regarding maintenance of international peace and security.  Noting that his country has presented a proposal to the Special Charter Committee, he stressed that it falls within that competency.  It is necessary to have a focused space for the full membership of the Organization to exchange views on recent interpretations of Article 51, particularly concerning the use of force against terrorist groups.  Voicing concern about the abuse of that Article, he noted that “the unwilling and unable criteria” are not included in it.  Calling on delegates to harness the intersessional period to consider his country’s proposal, he said it simply seeks to enable a dialogue on this matter, which is not considered in any other forum.  Calling for more accountability and transparency in the work of the Security Council, he highlighted its lack of action on reports submitted to it.

KAJAL BHAT (India), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that a balance must be reached between the functions and powers of the Organization’s principal organs.  The Special Charter Committee is the appropriate forum to examine the legal aspects of these issues.  The Security Council, in adherence to the Charter, must use the International Court of Justice more frequently to promote judicial settlement of international disputes before resorting to other means.  Regarding Chapter VII and Security Council sanctions, she said that while these sanctions can help maintain peace and security, in most cases they affect the population.  The problems of third States, confronted with special economic problems owing to such sanctions, must be addressed.  The Secretariat should explore practical and effective measures to help the affected third States, she said, welcoming its efforts to increase transparency and equity in the implementation of sanctions.  She also noted appreciation for the regular briefings by the Secretariat on the document “Introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations”, contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 64/115.

Ms. BIRHANU (Ethiopia), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the peaceful settlement of disputes is a critical tenet of international relations and the Charter.  As such, it is necessary to support States’ choices in dispute resolution and encourage consultative means towards this end that are conducive to sustained solutions and diplomatic relations.  She also underscored the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, which are best placed to provide context-informed, sustainable solutions.  Turning to sanctions, she said they must be measures of last resort, underscoring her rejection of unilateral coercive measures.  Sanctions imposed by the Security Council must be implemented only for their intended purpose and avoid unintended socioeconomic consequences, she added.

WISNIQUE PANIER (Haiti), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over sanctions imposed by the Security Council in peacekeeping operations.  His country has been the subject of such sanctions as well as eight United Nations missions.  Calling for the implementation of “good faith” sanctions, he stressed that any misuse of United Nations mechanisms to benefit certain powerful countries must be avoided.  He also said that the phrase “nations large and small” in the Charter’s preamble leads to confusion and does not reflect the principle of sovereign equality.  A nation ‑ unlike the geographic designation of a country or the institutional character of a State ‑ is a community of shared memory, myths, culture, historical links and economic unity.  He suggested that, if the international community cannot define the legal criteria to determine whether a nation is “large” or “small”, the Charter should be amended to simply speak of “nations”.

EVGENY A. SKACHKOV (Russian Federation), noting that his country is an active member of the Special Charter Committee, highlighted a Russian Federation‑Belarus initiative submitted to the Committee’s review requesting an International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the legal consequences of a State’s use of force without preliminary authorization from the Security Council, except in cases of the right to self-defence.  In addition, his delegation put forward a proposal to update the Handbook on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States and to create a related page on the United Nations website.  Recalling other proposals that could be helpful in settling disputes and preventing new conflicts, he drew attention to the proposal by Mexico to examine the application of Article 51 of the Charter and Syria’s initiative to examine privileges and immunities of United Nations States representatives and officials.  Noting that these proposals are worth a full-fledged discussion, he also spotlighted Iran’s initiative to elaborate guiding principles on the prevention, elimination, reduction of the effectiveness and redress of the negative effects of unilateral cohesive measures ‑ a relevant proposal in the context of unilateral sanctions, which are not based on the international law.

ESTELA MERCEDES NZE MANSOGO (Equatorial Guinea), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations and the African Group, said that the work of the Special Charter Committee is essential to uphold the purpose and principles of the Charter in terms of the maintenance of international peace and security, the development of cooperation among States and the promotion of international law.  She reiterated that sanctions should continue to be implemented in full conformity with the provisions of the Charter and international law.  She also expressed her country’s support for the revised working paper proposed by Ghana on strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations in the peaceful settlement of disputes. 

IN CHOL KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of Friends in Defence of the United Nations Charter, called attention to the recent simultaneous missile launches in the north and south of the Korean peninsula as well as test-launches of hypersonic gliding vehicles by several countries, including his and the United States.  Yet, only his country was condemned as a "threat" to international peace in the Security Council.  The United States, with a permanent seat in the Council, has laid bare its double-dealing attitude as ringleader of nuclear proliferation through its decision to transfer technology for building a nuclear-powered submarine to Australia.  To shift responsibility for the unleashed Korean War onto the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and legitimise its military intervention in 1950, the United States took advantage of the former Soviet Union’s boycott of Security Council meetings by establishing the "Unified Command under the United States", later craftily coined as the "United Nations Command".  The "United Nations Command" is nothing more than the United States Command, which has nothing to do with the Organization, as acknowledged by former Secretaries-General and other United Nations officials.  Such an illegitimate and unlawful, bogus entity disgraces the United Nations in contravention of the purposes and principles of the Charter.

FRANCIS WINSTON CHANGARA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of Friends of the Charter of the United Nations and the African Group, added his support for Ghana’s proposal calling for more structured engagements between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The role of women in all stages of conflict resolution and in peaceful settlements can never be overemphasized.  He noted his concern about the use of unilateral sanctions that violate international law and international humanitarian law.  Such sanctions disregard the sovereignty of States and the Charter principles, and they should not be condoned and continue unabated.  There is value in Iran’s proposal for legal analysis of unilateral coercive measures to provide a clear understanding of their impacts on the right to development of targeted States, and other pertinent matters.

ELIE ALTARSHA (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said that one of the most prominent examples of misuse of the provisions of the Charter is the use of the right to self-defence and combating terrorism, as a pretext for aggression or occupation.  The international community is in a state of semi-community and violence.  It has launched acts of aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic to support terrorist organizations and entities, and to occupy parts of the country.  In this regard, he reiterated his support for the joint proposal of the Russian Federation and Belarus, highlighting that the principle of sovereign equality is a principle enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

MOUSSA PARAISO SOULEYMANE (Niger), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that reforms to the United Nations system must be carried out with strict respect for the principles of the Charter.  Calling for a recommitment to multilateralism, he said the international community needs to be more rigorous in the application of the Charter, lest the world once again fall prey to the disasters that led to the creation of the United Nations.  Noting that the end of the great wars was not synonymous with peace throughout the world, he added that, alongside conflicts, the world also has to deal with threats from terrorism and pandemics and climate change.  Reaffirming support to multilateral diplomacy as an essential means to overcome such challenges, he recalled the important role of the International Count of Justice and added that States must refrain from using force or the threat of force.

DOH KWANGHEON (Republic of Korea) noted with concern that many duplicative proposals and working papers of the Special Charter Committee could lead to a lack of interest and participation from most of the Member States.  Considering the United Nations limited resources at this pivotal juncture, the international community needs to ponder rationalizing that Committee’s work, including the possibility of retiring stagnant proposals and working papers, as well as holding meetings in alternate years.  He reiterated the importance of consistency between the activities of the Special Charter Committee and other principal organs of the United Nations.  Its work must be reviewed to ensure that overlaps in the duplication of efforts in the entire United Nations system are minimized.  Furthermore, he urged all Member States not to use the Special Charter Committee as a forum for political propaganda.  He also added he hopes that the zero draft resolution to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration can be adopted by consensus.

XU CHI (China), associating himself with the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said that the Charter is the bedrock of the international order.  Commending the Special Charter Committee’s useful discussion on topics such as sanctions, he stressed that sanctions are means rather than ends.  The Security Council should adopt a cautious and responsible attitude in this matter, he said, adding that such sanctions should be adopted only when other means are exhausted.  Further, their impact on civilians and third parties States must be minimized.  Calling on Member States to settle their disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, he added that arbitration is a professional, flexible and efficient means towards this as well.  Arbitration depends on the will of the parties and correct application of laws by third parties, he said, noting that his country has nominated four arbitrators to the Permanent Court on Arbitration. 

AAHDE LAHMIRI (Morocco) supported efforts to improve the Special Charter Committee’s working methods, efficiency and use of resources.  Noting that the United Nations Charter is universal in nature and supports the prevention, mediation and pacific settlement of disputes, she stressed that respect for the Charter is important for both the General Assembly and the Security Council.  Preservation of this balance is essential for each body to accomplish its mandate.  Further, international peace and security is bolstered when the Charter’s pre-eminence is respected, and its goals and principles must guide the actions of States.  Turning to the Repertory and Repertoire, she welcomed the Secretariat’s constant efforts to reduce the backlog accumulated in preparing these publications, which are useful resources on the practice of United Nations bodies.

ALINA J. LLANO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, said that the Special Charter Committee plays an important role in democratizing the United Nations, which must act for the benefit of peoples and not “hegemonic powers and their egotistical interests”.  Welcoming that sufficient time was allotted to that the Special Charter Committee to carry out its work, she called on the same to bolster its efforts to examine proposals pertaining to the Charter and to strengthening the role of the United Nations.  It is also vital to strengthen the General Assembly’s authority and central role.  On unilateral coercive measures, she expressed her rejection for the application of the same in any form, as this violates the principles of the Charter and of international law.  When imposed in the exceptional context of the pandemic, such measures become crimes against humanity.

KHALILAH HACKMAN (Ghana), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, welcomed the progress made in the peaceful settlement of disputes, saying that the United Nations can only benefit from more contact with regional bodies as well as from greater participation by women and youth.  She also called for more efforts in the promotion of international peace and security to develop general guidelines, without duplicating the mission of the Security Council.  Therefore, she noted that she is looking forward to working with Member States on the further revised working paper in the next General Assembly session.  As for the Manila Declaration, which is of great importance as a unique framework for the peaceful settlement of international disputes, she welcomed the proposal to honour the fortieth anniversary of its adoption in 1982.

For information media. Not an official record.